It’s been a long, rather dull but concerned off-season for this Cubs fan. Running out of gas down the stretch the last two seasons, the Cubs obviously needed some fixin’ for the 2020 season. There was no fun left in them come last September. Maybe because there wasn’t much left, it seemed, in Joe Maddon. He’s missed and questions linger.
Complacency may not be the right word to describe team policy but that’s the feeling that permeated the off season. Naming a new manager and dangling a solid franchise player as trade bait made headlines but to date no headway.
Pitching clearly needs attention, especially the bullpen. But even the starting rotation shows cause for concern. Arms seem to age faster than hearts even for the best of them. And without a strong closer post-season play will once again be in jeopardy.
David Ross may bleed Cub blue, as his did in ‘16 but being a players’ player is not like managing them. Missing Maddon’s experience could be a huge factor. But Mr. Ross deserves a fair go at creating a team that dances in the bullpen and into post-season play.
What’s new is the Marquee network. WGN lost its iconic stamp on the Cubs a few years back and I’m certain there are still second, third and endless thoughts about that decision.
But, so far, Marquee seems to be tailor made for both the Cubs’ history and future. But Marquee still needs a way to match the reach of WGN.
Up next, the season itself. Wrigleyville is wired for a repeat of ‘16. Let’s hope the leftovers from that World Series club aren’t leftovers at all but the nucleus of another history making campaign. At the moment our world needs the fun of all that to offset the stresses besetting our country and the community of nations challenged by war, disease, climate change and a plague of human abuses.
Baseball can’t fix any of that but the game takes its fans to places old and new, always, that are simply fun. Much needed, unfortunately, in the months ahead.
“Hey, Chicago, what do you say … !”